In the spring of her freshman year of college, my youngest daughter, who had spent her life in a Modern Orthodox day school, texted me with exciting news that she had signed up to do “security” for the upcoming Liquid Latex performance. I thought my 5’2” daughter was joking. What did she know about security? What did it mean to “do security”? And what was Liquid Latex? Turns out it’s a club which holds a once-a-year performance. The kids get painted. Wearing only thongs. And her job was to make sure no one got hurt. How does someone get hurt? They may react to the paint, but they do a skin test. They may pass out from being painted for hours. Don’t worry Mom, I am security, I am not in the show. Last year she choreographed a piece and designed the “costumes” for the piece she choreographed – something about candy. I did not offer to come to see the show, and she did not ask. But she started to talk about performing next time around.
When I studied eating psychology, the subject of embodiment came up often. Marc David talks about toxic shame in relation to our bodies. The story of Adam and Eve is a story about shame, knowledge and nakedness. On one hand I have spent my life steeped in modesty in relation to one’s body. On the other hand, when we carry toxic shame about our bodies, we are at risk for creating conditions in ourselves to make sense of the shame. I call it the “I am ashamed of my body because I _______” syndrome. You can fill in the blank – am fat, am a glutton, have an illness, am not perfect, am too sexual, am not sexual enough, hate my hair, am always hungry, am out of control of my emotions, am not athletic – the list is endless. At some point in my life, embodiment, feeling my body and all its sensations, felt so shameful that I learned to disembody, to disconnect my head from my body. Really being in my body felt taboo, dangerous, risky, and scary. Because of the disconnection, I lost track of most of my body’s messages, including when my body was hungry and when it was sated, what nourished me and what didn’t. Disembodiment is how we end up gaining weight, an outward sign of disembodiment.
Last week was the annual Liquid Latex performance. My daughter is co-head of the Liquid Latex club. She spent much of her free time this year organizing over 100 people to pull off the show. She designed a piece based on the movie Grease, and she danced. She asked her sisters to come, and I offered to come along. The men in our family passed, but I was curious to see why this has become so important to her. For the first few minutes, it felt like my worlds were colliding – the world I grew up in, raised my daughters in, with the world I represent now as an Eating Psychology Coach. My daughter had to overcome a lot of her own inhibitions and discomfort around her body, about the human body altogether. When her music started, she danced, smiling from ear to ear, and I was proud of her, proud of her comfort with herself, glad for the embodied, young woman she is. Maybe this represents a collision of worlds for her also, or maybe she has achieved a more comfortable understanding of head and body and how they can coexist without shame, with abandon, energy and joy.